Nebraska report: Keystone XL pipeline poses “minimal” risks

posted at 5:31 pm on January 5, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

During his first term, the Obama administration managed to rather successfully punt on , er, ‘defer for further review processes’ the full authorization of TransCanada Corp.’s proposal to build a 1,700-mile pipeline that would transfer Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. The Keystone XL pipeline has been an apt demonstration of some of Democratic subfactions’ competing interests, i.e. the green lobby versus unions, and the administration went to great pains to neglect the high-profile issue and sweep it under the rug before the campaign got into full gear — the many much-need jobs, tax revenues, and free trade/foreign policy benefits be damned.

In his first term, his administration pandered to environmental groups by denying the Canadian government’s application to build the northern half of the pipeline from Canada to Nebraska even though it already had been under review for three years. The decision was not only irresponsible, it was nonsensical. …

At a time when cash-strapped states were struggling through an anemic economic recovery, the president wrote off $585 million in potential state and local tax revenue the pipeline would have generated. …

Yet in the weeks ahead, opposition groups will continue to pressure the president to reject the Keystone XL pipeline on environmental grounds. They will press forward with their misinformation campaign, despite the fact that transporting oil by way of pipelines produces fewer carbon emissions than transporting it by truck, rail or oceangoing tankers sent overseas. Even the State Department’s environmental analysis of the Keystone pipeline noted failure to build the pipeline could result in greater emissions.

‘Opposition groups’ being the polite way to put it; the southernmost portion of the pipeline is already being built across Texas, and authorities there have to regularly do battle with crazed green extremists determined to halt construction and raise awareness.

The deputies had puzzled for hours over how to extricate them from the tracks of the heavy machines used to chew through the East Texas pines. In the early morning darkness of November 19, before work crews arrived, the protesters had fastened themselves to the equipment with lock boxes — mechanisms straight from the civil disobedience toolkit. Take a length of PVC or steel pipe, two lengths of chain, carabiners and two willing arms, and you get a few hours of frustration for law enforcement.

Their intention was to halt the advance of what may soon become the longest pipeline outside of Russia or China. Since construction began in August, protesters have used their bodies to tie up heavy equipment or otherwise obstruct workers clearing the pipeline’s path through East Texas. …

But it isn’t the pipeline itself these protesters most fear; it’s what it will carry: as much as 830,000 barrels a day of a form of semisolid petroleum the consistency of asphalt, called bitumen. To render it liquid, it is blended with natural-gas condensate or synthetic crude oil.

Radical environmentalists’ penchant for counterproductivity never ceases to amaze. These oil sands were always going to be purchased and used whether we complete this pipeline or not, the only real question being if we would thumbs-up doing business with our friendly northern neighbor ourselves or decline and watch the resources get tankered over to China instead. What’s more, the environmental lobby will not be able to fully stop the oil-and-gas boom happening across the U.S. due to the reserves now unlocked by hydraulic fracturing technologies, and by far the safest and most efficient way to transport these resources is via terrestrial pipeline.

On Friday, Nebraska provided a tentative green-light that will be crucial in pushing the Obama administration to finally get a move on and just approve the thing already, much to the greenies’ chagrin:

The disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline would pose “minimal” risks to Nebraska’s environment, a state agency said in a report released Friday, removing a major barrier to the project’s receiving final approval.

The much-anticipated final review of the pipeline found that a new route proposed by operator TransCanada Corp. avoids sensitive regions that have been a source of concern. Nebraska became the center of the debate over Keystone XL after the Obama administration rejected a permit for the pipeline last year, saying a congressional deadline made it difficult to conduct a thorough review of the state’s concerns. …

The U.S. State Department is conducting a separate review of the pipeline because it would cross the U.S.-Canada border. The State Department is expected to issue a draft of its own environmental analysis in coming days. …

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